What is desktop PC memory?
One of the key factors that increase or decrease the performance of your system is Random Access Memory (RAM). Working with your CPU processor and motherboard, the RAM in your PC provides apps and games with a place to temporarily store and access data. RAM saves data that your computer is using in real time, so that it can be readily accessible, and take some of the burden off your processor.
The more concurrent applications your system is launching and running, the more RAM you will need. The amount of RAM you have installed has a direct impact on the speed and performance of your machine. You may experience some sluggish behaviour if your PC has insufficient RAM, and often just simply upgrading your memory can significantly improve performance on its own.
DDR stands for Double Data Rate, and DDR RAM modules are unique for each memory technology generation. The three most popular types of RAM are DDR3, DDR4 and DDR5.
- DDR3 Memory: An older generation of DDR, DDR3 is still a great option for those building a PC on a lower budget. Whilst performance cannot get close to DDR4 or DDR5, it will still be enough to play older games, and for lighter productivity duties, such as word processing and spreadsheet usage.
- DDR4 Memory: The latest, most demanding games can be played with excellent performance thanks to the low latency and large capacity of DDR4 RAM, which also offers streamlined workflows for high-resolution photo and video editing. DDR4 is incredibly flexible, offering a variety of capacities, clock speeds, and available in both RGB and non-RGB formats.
- DDR5 Memory: The next generation of RAM (Random Access Memory), DDR5, superseded DDR4 in 2020. A built-in voltage regulator, an 80-bit bus for efficiency, a four-fold increase in module capacity over DDR4 and higher MHz clock frequencies are among the features, being available in RGB and non-RGB, and consuming 10% less power than DDR4. DDR5 is often used in high end gaming PCs, creator PCs and workstations, and with the inception of next generation processors and motherboards supporting DDR5, the performance of DDR5 continues to increase.
Buying RAM for your PC
You can check if your computer needs more memory very easily. Look out for these warnings that your system requires more RAM: -
- Your machine is using at least 80% of its memory when you're working or gaming, or you get a memory error displayed.
- Applications often take a long time to load or files take a while to open, even from a fresh boot.
- Multiple applications cannot be run simultaneously, or applications hang for some time when you open a second program.
- Games take a long time to load maps or launch from a menu
- Your cursor freezes when using an application and performing an action
Access your Task Manager by holding Ctrl+Shift+Escape. Click the "Performance" tab, and you will see the amount of memory you are currently using:
Here you can see the type of memory you are using (DDR3 in the image above), the capacity (16GB in the above example) and the memory usage (62% in the example).
To buy RAM for your system, you will need to know exactly which motherboard you are using, and these specifications: -
- DDR memory compatibility
- Maximum clock speed
- Maximum number of modules
Finding your motherboard information
To find out which motherboard model you have, and the above specifications, open the Run dialog by holding down the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. Type msinfo32 and press Enter. You will now see the Windows System Information overview. Your motherboard info will be specified as Baseboard Manufacturer, BaseBoard Product, and BaseBoard Version. Go to the motherboard manufacturer's website, and look under "Support" or "Help", where you should be able to search for your particular model.
The specifications for your motherboard will list which type of DDR is compatible, the maximum clock speed (in MHz) and the number of slots available (the number of modules you can install).
Note for 32-bit systems: The maximum amount of RAM that can be utilised on a 32-bit Windows or Linux machine is 4 GB. Any additional memory over 4 GB won't be recognised and could result in a starting problem. The limit is 512 GB for the majority of 64-bit systems.
How much RAM do you need?
Many experts will tell you that 16GB is the "sweet spot" for RAM memory. This is usually enough for most types of gamers, and enough for PCs that are used for working from home, or families. Modern games do take a lot of processing power and use the VRAM found in graphics cards, relying less on RAM - and rarely using more than 16GB even in the most demanding titles. That said, if you are only playing games, 16GB is enough. If you plan on using streaming software, using your browser, or using communications tools like Discord, then it would be wise to upgrade to 32GB, and cover yourself for other applications besides your game.
Creators and those who have workstation PCs will rely on 32GB or more, with applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro or other creative software using a lot of memory when in use. When encoding, rendering or just saving large files, your PC will rely on the RAM to get the job done in the shortest time possible, and keep your workflow running smooth.
- Gamers: 16GB for just gaming / 32GB for gaming/streaming/communications and multi-tasking
- Creators: 32GB for high productivity and smooth workflow
Above are some of the FAQ we get when it comes to upgrading RAM. If you need more help, you can also try our Memory (RAM) Buying Guide, or contact us!
Memory (RAM) Buying Guide Contents:
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